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Crevolyn Wiley: Many reasons and ways to celebrate the month of March
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Wow! It’s March already and spring is on the way. And we have daffodils blooming in our yard for goodness sake.

March marks a new season where the sun begins to warm the earth after the winter chill; the bulbs start popping from the soil; and plants begin bursting with color. I can hardly wait to get outside and dig in the dirt.  

In March happenings, our daughter Emily will have a birthday this month (the big 3-0). While I might be tempted to lament that I am, in fact, the mother of a 30-year-old, I’ll just think about what I can do to make the day special for her. On the menu will be her favorite Strawberry Cake with lots of candles.

In addition to our family’s birthday event, March is packed full of reasons to celebrate: St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, college basketball’s March Madness beginning March 17; and an early celebration of Easter on March 27.

We have added incentive to watch the NCAA basketball tournament this year. Kanler Coker, a son of friends, Miles and Sharon Coker, is a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels team. We’ll be parked in front of the television, immersing ourselves in all of the March Madness, hoping to see North Carolina and Kanler win a championship. 

If you’ve read my column before you know I can’t talk about celebrations without talking about food. I thought it would be fun to offer food ideas for the next holiday on the calendar, St. Patrick’s Day.

With thoughts of shamrocks, Leprechauns and all things Irish, how about celebrating with a St. Paddy’s Day themed meal? Corned beef and cabbage with chocolate mint bars for dessert are a perfect addition. Happy March!

Corned beef and cabbage

* 3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet

* 10 small red potatoes

* 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces

* 1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

* 1 onion, cut into wedges

Rinse the corned beef under running water.

Place corned beef in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef.

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.

Approximately one hour before meat is done, add whole potatoes and carrots and let cook for 40 minutes. Then add cabbage and onion and cook an additional 20 minutes.

Remove meat from pot and let rest 15 minutes. Slice meat across the grain.

Place vegetables in a bowl and add broth from the pot.

Serve immediately. 

Chocolate mint bars

* 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) plus 6 tablespoons butter, divided

* 2 cups granulated sugar

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 4 eggs

* 3/4 cup cocoa

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

* 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar

* 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water

* 1 teaspoon mint extract

* 4 drops green food color

* 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan.

Place 1 cup (2 sticks) butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50 percent) for 2 minutes or until melted.

Stir in granulated sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; beat well. Add cocoa, flour and baking powder; beat until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.

Cool completely on wire rack.

Mint cream center:

Combine powdered sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, water, mint extract and food color. Beat until smooth.

Spread evenly on brownies. Cover; refrigerate until cold.

Chocolate glaze:

Place remaining 6 tablespoons butter and chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50 percent) 1 minute or until mixture is smooth when stirred.

Cool slightly; pour over chilled dessert.

Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.


Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at